Our Children—A Heritage from Jehovah
“GET out of my sight! Leave! Don’t come back!” After shouting these words, a father threw his 16-year-old son out of the house.
The teen-ager is one of a group of children that has drawn much publicity in recent years. “Called trashed kids, pushouts, homeless youth, throwouts and throwaways—they have been rejected by their families and told to ‘get out,’ often with no money and only the clothes they are wearing,” notes an article in Parade magazine. The article further stated: “Some parents who throw away their kids never want to see or hear from them again.”
Obviously many adults today take a dim view of children. Has this attitude influenced your thinking? Whether you answer Yes or No, you will find it beneficial to consider the viewpoint that the Bible urges parents to take toward their children.
Under inspiration of God, the psalmist wrote of children who are born in honorable wedlock: “Look! Sons are an inheritance from Jehovah; the fruitage of the belly is a reward.” (Ps. 127:3) According to the Hebrew lexicon by William Gesenius, the word “inheritance” in this instance means: “A possession granted by Jehovah, gift of Jehovah.” When people receive a valuable gift, they usually treasure it. If the gift requires maintenance and upkeep, they give it the best.
Do you treat your children as if they were a heritage from the Creator, Jehovah? The Scriptures state: “The children ought not to lay up for their parents, but the parents for their children.” (2 Cor. 12:14) “Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” (1 Tim. 5:8) God desires that parents “lay up” provisions for their children both material and spiritual. How can that be done successfully?
Since all parents and children have their own personalities, it is impossible to present minute rules for child rearing that will succeed with every child in every family. However, let us consider certain basic guidelines that have always proved to be beneficial.
One counselor at a residence for cast-off children points out how the staff at that institution tries to help them: “We listen to the young person. We tune into the crisis and find out how he or she is feeling.” This is known as “communication,” and it begins by listening. Your family, too, may benefit by communication.
Do you have good communication with your children on a regular basis? We do not mean empty chitchat or “forced” conversation about the weather or some other superficial matter. Truly effective communication must be ‘heart to heart.’ It must stem from genuine love and affection between parent and child. Since ‘out of the heart’s abundance the mouth speaks,’ paying attention to what your child says will keep you attune to his emotional and spiritual needs.—Luke 6:45.
Cultivating good communication with children requires much patience and hard work. To succeed at this, parents must follow the Scriptural counsel to do “nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism.” They must ‘keep an eye, not in personal interest upon just their own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others,’ especially their children. (Phil. 2:3, 4) Due to inheriting sin, all humans tend to be more interested in themselves than in others. Parents must fight against this tendency and cultivate interest in things that their children find appealing.
“DISCIPLINE AND MENTAL-REGULATING”
An important evidence of parental love is described at Proverbs 13:24: “The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.” A similar Scriptural guideline states: “The rod and reproof are what give wisdom; but a boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame.”—Prov. 29:15.
The discipline mentioned here does not mean simply physical punishment, though that is necessary on occasion. Children must know not only what to do and from what to refrain, but also why certain things are right or wrong. In other words, effective discipline of children calls for corrective counsel that children will accept as being right.
This need can be met by heeding the further Scriptural command: “You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” (Eph. 6:4) Children must learn the way man’s Creator thinks, the things that God likes and dislikes. In order to provide such mental-regulating, parents themselves must be well acquainted with the Bible.
Instructive in this connection is the following declaration by Moses to parents in ancient Israel: “These words that I am commanding you today must prove to be on your heart; and you must inculcate them in your son and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. And you must tie them as a sign upon your hand, and they must serve as a frontlet band between your eyes; and you must write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:6-9) In regard to these verses, the Bible commentary by Keil and Delitzsch states:
“For the love of God to be of the right kind, the commandments of God must be laid to heart, and be the constant subject of thought and conversation. ‘Upon thine heart:’ i.e. the commandments of God were to be an affair of the heart, and not merely of the memory . . . [Compare Deuteronomy 11:18]. They were to be enforced upon the children, talked of at home and by the way, in the evening on lying down and in the morning on rising up, i.e. everywhere and at all times; they were to be bound upon the hand for a sign, and worn as bands (frontlets) between the eyes. . . . these words are figurative, and denote an undeviating observance of the divine commands.”
Treating your children as a heritage from Jehovah requires regular communication with them, as well as teaching them by continual repetition (‘inculcating’) the thinking of God as recorded in the Holy Scriptures. Do you feel that you could use some assistance in providing such Bible-based “discipline and mental-regulating”? If so, we encourage your thoughtful attention to the Scriptural principles and real-life experiences set forth in the following articles.